UPDATED: Walker weakens gun laws in Wisconsin; | Congress still unlikely to act on gun control

The AP and WiG reports

The slaughter of nine people in a South Carolina church left prospects that Congress will curb guns right where they’ve been for years — remote.

And, as if to illustrate that, Gov. Scott Walker signed GOP legislation weakening the state’s gun laws on June 24.

In a public signing event at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the Republican governor — who is expected to soon announce his candidacy for president — signed into law two bills easing restrictions on guns. One measure eliminates the state’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases and the other allows off-duty, retired and out-of-state police officers to carry firearms on school grounds.

“If we had pulled back on this, I think it would have given people the erroneous opinion that what we signed into law today had anything to do with what happened in Charleston,” Walker said at the ceremony, according to The AP.

Walker, who has a rating of 100 percent from the NRA, previously made Wisconsin the 49th state to legalize concealed carry and signed into law a “castle doctrine” bill giving homeowners more legal protections when they  shoot someone.

The new laws took effect on June 26.

At the federal level

Conceding that congressional action was unlikely soon, President Barack Obama said lawmakers will tighten federal firearms restrictions when they believe the public demands reform.

“I am not resigned,” Obama told the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco in June. “I have faith we will eventually do the right thing.”

Others said there was little evidence that the killing of nine black parishioners by the white alleged gunman, Dylann Roof, would make congressional action more likely, considering recent history.

“I’m skeptical it’s going to change peoples’ minds who weren’t converted by Newtown,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Murphy was part of the Senate’s failed efforts to strengthen background checks following the 2012 massacre of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

If anything, the odds of congressional action seem slimmer with both the House and Senate dominated by Republicans, who traditionally have been less sympathetic to curbs on gun ownership.

“The question remains how we keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them without violating the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans,” said U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “There’s ample time to learn more about what happened and debate ways to prevent these kinds of senseless acts.”

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam would not address whether the Charleston shootings would change lawmakers’ attitudes, saying, “As the NRA has done for decades, we will not comment until all the facts are known.”

In 2013, the Senate’s bipartisan attempt to require background checks of all firearms purchasers at gun shows and on the Internet failed by a 54-46 vote. That was six short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster against the bill.

A similar measure never reached the floor of the GOP-controlled House.

“I’d like to say these shootings in Charleston will be a turning point, enough for Congress to fight back against the gun lobby and take some serious action about gun laws. But I don’t want to be naive,” said Chelsea Parsons, who oversees gun policy for the liberal Center for American Progress.